The cloud is no longer “new”. It has grown immensely, and the security, scalability and accessibility of data stored in the cloud has improved greatly. The costs have also come down considerably. However, pure cloud computing for small and medium businesses is still not the norm. Most businesses in these areas are using a hybrid model that allows them to enjoy the benefits of the cloud, as well as the security and ownership provided by in house solutions. Is hybrid cloud the right option for you?
What Does “Hybrid” Actually Mean?
Before we touch on how a hybrid cloud system might work, it’s important to understand what the term actually means. Simply put, in a hybrid environment, a business might use one or more public cloud services or apps in combination with workloads handled within a private cloud system. This is done for a number of different reasons, including regulatory compliance (HIPAA/HITECH, PCI DSS and the like).
According to an article by Judith Hurwitz, Marcia Kaufman, Fern Halper and Daniel Kirsch, “The hybrid cloud is a combination of private cloud combined with the use of public cloud services where one or several touch points exist between the environment. The goal is to combine services and data from a variety of cloud models to create a unified, automated and well-managed computing environment.”
So, why might a business adopt a hybrid cloud platform, rather than going with a pure public or private cloud? There are many different reasons for this.
Why a Hybrid Cloud Makes Sense
There are quite a few benefits to the hybrid cloud model. One of those is to ensure that your business enjoys a private infrastructure on premises that is immediately accessible and does not put sensitive information into the public domain. Not only does that enhance security, but it also reduces latency and speeds up access time for your employees. This also alleviates the risk of your information being made unavailable due to Internet outages.
Yet another advantage here is scalability. Yes, public cloud services come at an additional cost. However, by using a hybrid platform, businesses are able to create a system that can handle their average in house workflows, and then pay for additional services or computational infrastructure only when needed. Think of it as a buffer that ensures cost savings when workflows remain normal, but provide additional assistance during times of very high demand.
Potential Problems with Hybrid Cloud
While a hybrid cloud can provide some significant advantages, it does not work in all situations. There is still a security issue here because information is allowed to be transmitted across a network that might be subject to hacking, tapping and more. That security risk is too much for some businesses to bear, such as those governed by HIPAA regulations.
Of course, there’s also the question of cost. While a hybrid system might be cheaper to develop than others, it can be costly. This is particularly true with the private cloud aspect of the platform, which requires that a business have its own servers operating in house in addition to using servers located off site. If your business is particularly strapped for cash, using only public cloud functionality might be a forgone conclusion, at least until growth brings the profitability needed to invest in in house IT equipment.
When everything is said and done, the hybrid cloud is highly beneficial solution that offers an interesting mix of benefits found with both public and private cloud platforms. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution or panacea.